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Faculty: MFL & Society
Paintings Art historians architecture

History of Art

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

Aims and Philosophy

Our aim is to take students on a journey through western society and to impart understanding and appreciation of some of the most significant artistic and cultural ideas and achievements that are reflected in painting, sculpture and architecture from classical Greece to the end of the twentieth century. In doing so, we develop visual analytical skills both orally and in written form. We discuss significant works in the Canon of Art History and relate works of art to their social, historical and cultural context.

In an age where communication is increasingly dominated by visual media, the study of Art History offers invaluable insights into the ways messages and meanings have been expressed in the past, revealing the concerns and values of various periods of European society including our own. The course involves visits to London museums, such as the National Gallery and Tate Galleries and trips abroad to either Paris or Florence.

The A level

In A level History of Art we use the AQA examination board. At AS students are introduced to the formal characteristics, terminology and background contexts of painting, sculpture and architecture. These include composition, colour, light, space, ornament, volume, techniques, line and shape. We look at the purpose and power of an image. We also consider significant Art Historical themes such as patronage, form and style, form and function, materials and techniques, nationality, society, ethnicity and gender. In the second year at A2 we study the art and architecture of two different centuries in detail, either the fifteenth or nineteenth century in Europe, as well as 1900 to 1945 in Europe and America. Students not only develop a rich cultural knowledge but also learn to critically analyse their studies and structure their essays to present coherent essays.

We run an Art History club where students watch recent programmes or dvds on artists or movements and discuss key themes, inspirations and the effects these have on us today.

Many students go on to study Art History at university and have found the A level course prepares them exceptionally well. History of Art is a well-respected academic subject that is offered by both Oxford and Cambridge. Students with a degree in History of Art will find that their visual, literary and analytical skills will not only prepare them for careers in the academic and commercial art worlds but make them attractive candidates for entry to the creative and marketing industries. As an essay based discipline it would support any career where the expression and organisation of ideas is important.